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The Neamt Citadel

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Located near Targu Neamt in Neamt County, in the north-eastern part of Romania, the Neamt Citadel is one of the oldest and best restored medieval fortresses of the country, a fascinating place to visit if you are interested in the history of the Middle Ages on these teritories. Aside from the long, often violent and still not fully known history of the citadel, the place has given birth over the centuries to several local legends and myths that make it all the more interesting.



In the past the Neamt Citadel (also known as the Neamtului Citadel) was a key element in the fortified defense system which was built to protect the country of Moldova from the Turkish threat. Nowadays, after being restored and turned into a major tourist attraction in the region - perhaps the most important one - the Neamt Citadel is being visited every year by thousands of Romanians and foreign tourists.

A short history



According to recent studies the Neamt Citadel was built during the last part of the 14th century, and from the very beginning the new structure was thought as a defense against the threats which were close to the borders of the country. Just one of soon to be many defensive structures, the citadel was in the beginning smaller than we can see today, but still for those medieval times it was an impressive and hard to conquer landmark. Some decades later, during the reign of legendary Moldavian ruler Stephen the Great, who understood better than most rulers the need for the country to be protected by a solid network of citadels and fortified cities against future Ottoman attacks. It was in 1475 - 1476 that the Neamt Citadel was expanded, strenghtened and the defense moat was made larger, while the only access way into the structure was a suspended bridge put over several stone pillars. For those times it was one of the most powerful and hard to conquer citadel, and over the next centuries it would be attacked several times. In 1476, for example, it was the target of a Turkish siege, which didn't manage to break the defense. Much later would also be sieged by Polish troups, and then the defenders surrendered.

Over the course of it's history the citadel would be a refuge and home for several Moldavian rulers, a fortress for the Polish forces, nearly destroyed in a fire, and until the 18th century would play a key-role in the defensive system of the region and of the whole country. It was during the time of Mihai Racovita that the citadel - among other defense structures - was abandoned and destroyed, and it wouldn't be long until there were only ruins which reminded of the glorious past of the former castle. Fortunatelly during the Romantic 19th century the Neamt Citadel was once again rediscovered by Romanian writers, painters and politicians, it became officially one of the very first historical monuments of the country and it seemed that a restoration was close by. But the very first restoration works begun one century later, in 1968, and it would be only in 2007 that a real campaign of rebuilding the citadel and turning it into a fascinating landmark began.

The Neamt Citadel today

Nowadays the Neamt Citadel in Romania has been carefully restored to it's former glory. Most of the outer architecture - defensive structures, towers, the impressive suspended bridge -  as well as interior attractions such as the jail, the fountain, the small praying place and several other rooms are opened for the public. The end result is amazing, for not only it captures what we can surely assume to be the original atmosphere of the place, but offers the rare chance of seeing how a medieval citadel was on the inside, and we can imagine how the day by day life must have been. A splendid tourist attraction that you must not miss if you are in the region. 



photo: artLine.ro



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